Steve and Jessica Reeves are strong “AGvocates” and their passion for agriculture shines through all that they do. Jessica is a high school agriculture teacher and Steve is a 6th generation dairy farmer of Brookhill Holsteins in Freetown, PE where they reside with their children Luke and Bella-Mae. Jessica and Steve have both been involved in agriculture for as long as they can remember as they both come from farming families; Steve is fortunate enough to continue to still farm everyday alongside his parents (Kate & Farrell Reeves). This outstanding couple won the Canadian Outstanding Young Farmers title in 2005, and they remain very active within the Outstanding Young Farmers organization as alumni. Jessica goes above and beyond her duties as a teacher as she goes out of her way to educate her students about the opportunities that agriculture can present and where our food comes from, by hosting guest speakers and taking them on farm tours and to other agricultural events. She has been recognized on multiple occasions for all the work she has done, as she was awarded Farm & Food Care PEI Champion Award in 2018 and was the recipient of the 2019 Women’s Institute Women in Agriculture Recognition award and the 2019 Western Area Teachers’ Association Golden Apple Award. Steve and Jessica value supporting local producers and are very proud of the Agriculture community on PEI.
Name: Steve and Jessica Reeves
Occupation: Steve is a dairy farmer, and Jessica is a high school teacher who coordinates the Agriculture Diploma Program at Kinkora Regional High School.
What does your job entail?
Steve: We start by milking the cows, and we do that twice a day. Along with that we do the cropping, feeding, cleaning, and maintenance projects. Also in addition to the farm I have a seed company that takes up quite a bit of my day, mostly just servicing customers. I sell a large variety of seeds, such as corn, soybean, grass seeds, and a lot of cover crops that farmers are using more of now, like Sorghum- Sudan Grass, Pearl Millet, and multi species mixes.
Jessica: As a school teacher I teach agriculture and agri-science, and I also coordinate the Agriculture Academy Diploma Program. A lot of my time is spent planning agriculture related activities, field trips, and lesson plans around the importance of agriculture and where our food comes from, and also trying to encourage young people to get involved in the agriculture industry.
How long have you been involved in the agriculture\food industry on PEI?
Steve: Since I was about 14 or 15 years old. I grew up on my family’s Dairy Farm, but it wasn’t until I was older that I really became involved with the farm.
Jessica: I also grew up in a farming family, on a beef and potato farm in Lady Fane, PE and have been actively involved with agriculture my whole life.
What is your education/ experience prior to entering your current job?
Steve: I took an Ag Engineering program at NSAC in Truro (now Dalhousie Agricultural Campus) then right out of school I continued to work on my family farm.
Jessica: I went to DAL AC for a year and took Landscape Horticulture, then I attended UPEI and completed a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, a Bachelor of Education, and a Masters of Leadership & Learning. All through university I worked for the PEI 4H Council, I also had a short contract with the Dairy Farmers of Prince Edward Island doing a producer survey. Once I finished my education degree I started teaching agriculture at Kensington Intermediate Senior High School.
Are you involved in any extracurricular or community activities?
Both of us are very involved in the Atlantic Outstanding Young Farmers program. We went through the program in 2005 and as alumni we continue to help run the organization with all the other alumni from Atlantic Canada. We go to the national event every year and we are actually hosting the National event for 2019 in Fredericton, NB this December. That is a big part of our lives, and it is our way to give back as Outstanding Young Farmers has given so much to us.
Jessica: I am also active in the Kensington Skating Club, as the clubs Secretary.
Steve: I am the Vice Chair for the PEI Marketing Council. I have my pilot’s license, so I help volunteer for COPA for Kids (Canadian Owners and Pilots Association) to take children up for an introductory flight.
What’s your favourite way to eat PEI Dairy products?
Steve: I enjoy running, so my favourite dairy product would be chocolate milk, especially after a long run. It is a necessity to have in the fridge at our house.
Jessica: My favourite would have to be cheese… melted, baked, raw, on top of anything, I love all types of cheese. I really love charcuterie boards.
When you were a kid, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Steve: For a while I wanted to be a veterinarian, but now I am pretty close because I get to work with animals every day.
Jessica: I always wanted to be a teacher.
What would you want consumers to know about your business and the agriculture/food industry?
There is a lot of work that goes into the food that is produced. People in the AG industry go to great lengths to ensure that the food is safe, nutritious, and produced ethically. It is actual people, just like you and I, who are producing the food, it is not great big corporations. In our case, our products go to a cooperative dairy, where a group of farmers provide all the raw ingredients to make the products. We are just their friends, family, and neighbours that are producing safe, high quality food for them to eat.
I encourage people to really look at what agriculture has to offer, just don’t focus on the statistics; there is 74,000 jobs going to be available in 2022. Maybe if you don’t head off to university thinking you are going to work in agriculture to keep an open mind, that agriculture is where there will be a lot of growth and potential in the future, so you can kind of use the skills you have learned in high school through the program and take that with you, to keep a job in agriculture in your mind and vision. And these jobs are not all necessarily growing food and being a primary producer, it is all the other jobs that we need you to support. A lot of people do not graduate high school saying “I am going to be a crop insurance inspector”, but an open mind can lead you down these pathways. Also, a lot of people in agriculture do not have agricultural degrees, you can enter agriculture with business, marketing, science, or communications; It is just so interesting how people find their niche. So I just hope younger people will keep an open mind, just to know that there are so many options out there.
Why do you do what you do?
Steve: I really enjoy it, I like working outside and with the cows. I also like to be my own boss.
Jessica: I love my job, I am super lucky. I love working in Kinkora, I love the small rural school and the small community atmosphere. I get to do so much more with the students, a lot of hands on learning, taking them on trips, and exposing them to different things, I really enjoy that part of my job. I love working close to home too. It is nice that you can live in rural PEI and there is work, agriculture provides a lot of work for people who want to live in a rural community.